Wednesday, September 22, 2010
South Carolina Preview
South Carolina will be the best team Auburn has played to date. That being said, Auburn will be, by a long shot, the best team the Gamecocks have played this season. South Carolina has badly beaten overmatched Southern Miss and Furman, and beat an out-manned Georgia squad without their premier playmaker in A.J. Green. USC has yet to play a road game. Carolina hasn't trailed for single second this year and got an enormous bump in the polls by beating a Georgia team that's not as good as they will be when we play them. Auburn on the otherhand has the experience of an SEC-style slugfest under its belt. It has gone on the road and played in a hostile environment in primetime. It has trailed 17-0 and weathered the storm, gathered their composure, and stormed back themselves to beat Clemson. Auburn is battle-tested; South Carolina is not.
The crowd has the potential to be an enormous, if not the most critical factor in this weeks game. South Carolina has not had to endure the crowd noise this season on the road, and Auburn could undoubtedly benefit from the emotion, the energy, the passion only the fans within Jordan-Hare can conjure coming off an unbelievable street fight against Clemson. If you're going to the game but don't want to yell and wreak havoc against South Carolina, do the players, coaches and the Auburn faithful a favor and give your tickets to someone else that looks rowdy. No excuses for that place to not be absolutely rocking...it could be the difference between winning and losing.
What I'm looking for in this one...
-Auburn defense must get off the field on 3rd down. How do you do that? You shut down the run on 1st and 2nd down and force USC into 3rd and long and into predictable situations. You give them 3rd and 3 all night and it'll be a long night.
-Secondary must play the football in the air better. USC has tall, athletic WRs. That's both a blessing and a curse. The good is they are a little easier to run with and diagnose their routes. The bad is they relentlessly go after the football and have unbelievable ball skills. They'll make some plays, just can't make them all night long.
-Pressure the QB---pressure makes life easy for a defensive back. Get to Garcia and the Auburn secondary will garner its first INT of the season (and Spurrier throws his visor repeatedly). Give him time to go through all of his progressions and Spurrier grins his devilish grin.
-Auburn offense must make USC defend the whole football field, including the flats, the TEs, the RBs out of the backfield, and the space between the safeties and LBs. Give Newton some short, confidence building throws to get him going and to set the fast-paced tempo.
-Have to eliminate penalties in the red zone. This has killed us 2 weeks in a row and kept both teams in games we were closing out.
-No kicking game blunders.
-Begin each half by being the giver, not the taker (like we did to start the 2nd half against State and the start of the Clemson game)
This game is going to be a tough one (extremely cliche, understatement I know). But I also see the Gamecocks having some struggles of their own. We desperately need to jump on them first and make them play from behind, handle adversity, deal with the noise, and change their Alabama-esque game plan (play stellar D, run the football, pass to keep them honest). Could be another OT thriller!
P.S. Don't believe the "they'll be worn out from the Clemson game" hype. I played virtually every defensive snap four consecutive years at Auburn and never felt like one game affected the next physically...not even a little bit. Emotionally...that's a totally different animal.